Christian Siriano showed his Spring ’23 collection last Thursday at Elizabeth Taylor’s residence. Models descended the stairs dressed in the sumptuous evening dresses of the New York designer, apparently at random. Behind the scenes, producer Sophie Pape made sure she looked like one. “The mistake with calling programs is that there has to be a certain amount of seconds between each pattern,” she says. “It is not so.” She takes into account the personal cadence of each model, the restriction of the garment and footwear designated to ensure a rhythmic procession. It is the reactions of the moment like these that drive Pape’s fashion shows.
This spring ’23 season of New York Fashion Week, along with his team of six at S Projects (plus seasonal contractors), Pape produced shows for Area, Anonlychild, Alo Yoga, Sergio Hudsion and, of course, Christian Siriano. All these were not just parades. They were theatrical productions that audience members will not easily forget. “A fashion show is, in essence, a show,” says Devin Hammond, creative production coordinator at S Projects. The simple sign of Pape’s success? A good time. She wants to see show-goers smile. On the client’s side, she hopes their vision is articulated. “Because they will have the characters. They may not necessarily have the story. “
Pape began his career in British Harper’s Bazaar. The team needed someone to step forward and produce the Woman of the Year awards. Pape, then 21, volunteered. The work was complete, as production often is. Pape has done everything from confident sponsors to fine-tuning the lighting. “I got it right,” she muses, “and then essentially they made me the director of events.” She subsequently moved to New York and worked in the events department of Rowing. “I was doing a lot of side hustle and bustle, and my side hustle became my hustle and bustle,” says S projects of him from an idea. He now advises clients ranging from the Costume Institute to the Met (a product of his time of his to Rowing) to the giant brands Disney and Hulu to the New York Area fashion brand.
His production protege, Hammond, is another testament to the idea that age has no bearing on performance. Hammond graduated in 2020 amid the pandemic. He began his career in the world of casting and had the opportunity to work with the Met Gala Rowing. There, she met Pape. “Since the Met Gala, I’ve worked alongside this fabulous and very talented woman,” says Hammond, before qualifying, “No, seriously, she’s getting shit, for lack of a better term.” The Spring ’23 season is her first fashion week.
“If you’ve been in the trenches for this long, you don’t lose your creativity, but sometimes you don’t dream big because you know how much the doable deal costs,” Pape says. “Then you get these big dreamers and you say, ‘Okay, maybe we can figure that out.’ We have an 18 foot neon [sign] be loaded tomorrow. That no longer exists “. When Pape and Hammond discuss the projects they’re working on this season, you can taste their excitement, feel their frenzy. And you can see how far they will go for their work; the two joined in this interview crouched in a stairwell at Spring Studios. Discover below all the nuanced elements of the production of the fashion shows.
Manufacturing is such a generic term. There is so much under that umbrella. Can you tell me what your job is exactly?
Sophie Pape: “We are a little different. We don’t hire creative directors because internally we are creative enough to come up with new ideas, have a vision or take a vision and put it into practice and make it feasible. And therefore, in terms of creative producers, we have all the facets . Everything, from concepts to design. Where will it be? How will it be? We will do all this. And then the nuts and bolts of production “making it all come alive. How does the AV sound? How will we build it? I mean, I just built a whole tunnel today by myself. ”
What are some of the elements you are dealing with that most people wouldn’t think of?
SP: “The mistake with calling programs is that a certain amount of seconds must elapse between each model. That’s not the case. Well, at least that’s not the case with a really good show that’s actually timed on a T, maybe ai times when everyone was tiny and everyone had the same pace. Now, that’s not the case. We’ve diversified the patterns, as we absolutely should, and we’ve diversified the times. So this means if you have a girl in a complicated dress that’s going down downstairs, she needs more time on both sides because I don’t want the next model to catch up and I have to fix her first so that she can catch up with the model in front. ”
Devin Hammond: “And the heels are all gigantic.”
SP: “When you do, you have a vague idea but you are [playing it by ear] because you have no idea how they will walk. You can’t prove it, so you have to be good and you have to be good. And I’m there saying, ‘Ok, we have to loop the music because we need 28 minutes instead of 21.’ And we’re doing it live, so you probably didn’t notice, but we slowed down the music and then had to loop one. She didn’t tell me if she wanted one last walk up to during the show. It was like, ‘I don’t want to do this. The girls aren’t going down again. ‘”
DH: “I’ll give you credit for producing in a digital age where so many people are behind the scenes. The press and everyone is trying to create content for their own personal stories and having to reject everyone so they can get through. work is a whole other element that I think is not really discussed “.
What does your process generally look like?
SP: “It depends on the designer. So, someone like Jeremy Scott will say, ‘I have this idea.’ And he’ll give me a twisted kind of tea party. That’s it. And he’ll say, “Go.” That’s it. I’ll see him that day. I don’t have to check anything with him. And then there are some people who want to see round and round and rendering rounds. They are very specific about every single detail and you just have to know your client and lean on it. Many times, trust is built. And they know that I don’t deal with bullshit and they know that I am very protective for the time of my team, their mental health and all. ”
DH: “Basically a customer comes to us and says, ‘This is what I’m imagining.’ So we’ll take it, we’ll build a deck. ”
SP: “What’s the first thing we ask?”
SP: “What’s the budget? Because I don’t want to throw a $ 3 million idea when they say,” Oh, I have $ 50,000. “But then I taunted them with this.”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
DH: “The Met [Gala] in itself it was pretty crazy. ”
SP: “Honestly, the shows during COVID. We were front row in the New York Times with Christian’s show at his home. And I had to figure out how to do it and stay compliant with [safety measures] and make it safe. He wasn’t crazy. He was humiliating. I had such a capable team around me and these women are fantastic. ”
What is the value of this extraordinary and wild show experience? What do you want to leave for the audience members?
SP: “A really good time. Honestly, I want them to come and go and think, ‘I’ve seen creative people do what they do best.’ Or if I’m more inclined, “Wow, I bet it was hard to make and they made it.” What I really like to do is give people a great time, a really great performance. I want to see them smile. I want them to turn around. and say, ‘I had a lot of fun.’ And then from the client’s point of view, I want them to say, “You gave me a canvas to show my creativity and I’m really happy with how the picture was painted. Thank you for telling my story. “They will have the characters but they may not necessarily have the story and I think that’s what makes me feel good.”
Do you look at collections when you do something?
SP: “Yes, because for me it is quite immediate. I will see a paper and I will know: ‘This is my vision.’ It’s visceral. ”
DH: “She’s very good now. She can estimate [budget] almost to a T. It’s amazing. ”
What do you like about a fashion show compared to a party or dinner or whatever?
SP: “For fashion shows, you are serving a community, which I am proud of. But you are also working with extremely creative people. You can have some performance with audio and develop playlists and lights and what it will look like. We’re also very involved in capturing content. So, I’m thinking about the camera angles and what the shooting will be like for the videos. You’re building a platform and a world for these characters, for this creativity to live on. And they couldn’t. to do without you and you could not do without them. So it is as if you are both in a real family and extremely loyal. ”
DH: “It’s a symbiotic relationship. And it’s a really good opportunity … I mean, everyone you’re working with is the most detailed, the most complete. It’s a great opportunity.”
What’s the difference between working with a large corporate brand and a smaller fashion house?
SP: “The skills are always the same. You ask me to do a three million people event and I always tell the girls this:” It’s always the same amount of phone calls. “I have to call AV. I have to call enlightenment, but creatively you get a lot more freedom with fashion “.
DH: “With fashion, you get the opportunity for a show that many events don’t offer you. I think a fashion show is, in essence, a show.”
SP: “And the energy is great.”
DH: “It’s like a performance.”
If you look back, what is a striking show that you were extremely proud of?
SP: “Moschino on the subway, without a doubt. That was an impossible sight that had like, no current, no lighting, nothing. And we did it all. And we had full backs. We had to have these foam panels that hide the girls during the Hair and makeup. We had to find random churches where we could use the basement. We had to get air rights to put a satellite so we could get the Internet into the subway. ”
DH: “I’ll say one thing. Sophie never takes no for an answer. Never. Until she’s exhausted. Even this morning, she was like,” Don’t come to me with a problem. Please. Come up with a solution.